Toulouse suspect under siege

The French police have surrounded the alleged school shooter who claims to be a member of Al-Qaida

Topics: GlobalPost, France,

Toulouse suspect under siege ournalists gather near by as French police secure the area where they exchanged fire and were negotiating with a gunman who claims connections to al-Qaida and is suspected of killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Toulouse, southwestern France (Credit: AP Photo/Bruno Martin)

PARIS, France – French police have surrounded an apartment block in Toulouse where a man suspected of shooting dead seven people, including four at a nearby Jewish school, is barricaded on the fourth floor.

Global PostThe man has been identified as 24-year-old Mohammed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin – who told police he was an “mujahedeen” and a member of al-Qaida, France Info radio reported.

Police have taken control of the top floors of the building, in Toulouse’s northern Côte Pavée neighborhood, with residents evacuated via the roof and into waiting buses.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who is at the scene, told the French news channel BFM TV that in exchange for a “walkie-talkie,” Merah threw a .45 mm gun from his window.

This is understood to be the same weapon used to murder four people at the private Ozar Hatorah school on Monday, and three French paratroopers in Toulouse and Montabaun a week earlier.

Merah is still reportedly armed with a Kalashnikov, a mini-Uzi 9 mm machine pistol and several other handguns. Gueant told BFM his motive had been to “avenge Palestinian children and attack the French army.”

Authorities have confirmed French intelligence has been monitoring Merah for some time, and that he had previously been arrested in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for “common law crimes.”

You Might Also Like

It is understood that three of Merah’s family members, including his mother and two brothers, have been taken into police custody.

Gueant told BFM that Merah indicated to French counter-terrorism forces that he would surrender in the afternoon. “We cannot be sure he will surrender, but we are confident the suspect is the man who carried out the killings in Montauban and Toulouse,” Gueant said.

Three officers from the elite police team known as RAID were hurt in this morning’s operation, which began at 3 a.m. local time, France Info reported, adding that one of the officers was shot in the knee.

French authorities say Merah trained in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region and was affiliated with Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride, an Islamic group dismantled by the French government.

In an address to the nation, French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised French police for their “speedy investigation,” and urged unity between France’s Muslim and Jewish communities.

Sarkozy is to attend a memorial service this afternoon in Montauban, where two soldiers were killed and a third wounded by a gunman on a motorcycle on March 15.

Following Monday’s shooting at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school, in the Croix-Daurade neighborhood, France launched a massive manhunt.

According to reports, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet and driving a motor scooter pulled up in front of the school and shot a teacher and three children — two of them his own young sons.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a small video camera around the attacker’s neck, the French daily Liberation reported.

They also raised the terror alert in the Midi-Pyrénées region to its highest ever as a result of the attacks were linked to similar attacks on French soldiers a week earlier.

The shootings have prompted an outpouring of emotion throughout the country and angered the Jewish community which claims the attacks are racially motivated.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>